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Photoshop Elements 8 for Windows Essential Training highlights the important features of this comprehensive image organization and photo enhancement application. Photographer Jan Kabili shows how to use Photoshop Elements to organize and edit photos, build photos into projects like slideshows and photo books, and share photos with family and friends. Jan explains how to train Photoshop Elements 8 to recognize and tag faces, use the Smart Brush for targeted adjustments, and share photos using Adobe's online service, photoshop.com. She also dives deep into the application's editing tools, which rival those of the full product, Photoshop, in their ability to take snapshots and turn them into great photos. Exercise files accompany the course.
When you shoot JPEGs with a digital camera, a lot of the photo processing goes on inside the camera before you ever get to see the photo. By contrast, when you shoot RAW, you're the one who does the processing. What you get from your camera is raw data that's unprocessed, the conceptual equivalent of an original negative in film photography. The big advantage of shooting RAW is that you get to control the processing yourself in the Adobe Camera RAW Editor that comes with Elements. Another advantage of RAW files is that they have a higher bit depth, in other words more color information in them, than do 8 bit JPEGs so there is more latitude to edit RAW files.
Keep in mind that not all cameras will shoot RAW although more and more do offer a RAW option these days. So if you are interested in shooting RAW, check your camera manual and see if your camera will shoot RAW. When you bring RAW files from your camera into the Organizer, you'll see a special extension on the file name that represents the flavor of RAW photo to your particular camera takes. This file is pots.CRW and it was taken with a Canon camera, so it has the extension .CRW. But if for example I had taken this with a Nikon, it would have the extension .NEF.
To open a RAW file from here in the Organizer, I'll work the same way that I would with the JPEG. Here I'm going to select these two RAW files by clicking on the first, and then holding the Ctrl key and clicking on the second and then I'm going to go up to the Fix menu, click the arrow there, and choose Full Photo Edit. But notice that the files haven't open in the Full Edit workspace that you're used to seeing. Instead both files are open here in the special Camera RAW editor. I happened to be using Camera RAW 5.4, but from time to time newer versions of Camera RAW are made available by Adobe online and those can be downloaded and installed and used here in Elements.
In the Camera RAW Editor on the left there is a column that shows a thumbnail of each open image and the one with the border is currently showing here in the editing area. Over on the right are column of settings that you can use to control the way that this photo will be processed. There are several different groups of settings organized under these three tabs. Currently I'm in the first tab, the Basic tab. At the top of this column is a histogram. This is similar to the histogram that I showed you earlier in the Histogram panel and in the Levels Adjustments panel.
A histogram is a diagram of possible tones that could be in the image from bright whites on the right to dark shadows on the left. And a mound of colors out of white here is actually a compressed group of bars that represents the actual tones in this image. It's useful to keep your eye on this histogram as you manipulate the controls down here in this column to get a visual representation of what you're doing to the tones in the image. The first control here is White Balance. White Balance controls the overall color temperature of the photo from warm to cool.
Regardless of what White Balance your camera may have used when you shot the photo, you can change the White Balance here in the Adobe Camera RAW Editor and by doing that you can set the mood for the picture by changing the lighting. The way that I approach White Balance is usually to start with this menu of White Balance Presets. I open the menu and I just go through the entries here, keeping my eye on the photo to see which one I like best. In this case I'm going to go with Daylight. Once I've chosen a preset to start with, I'll come to Temperature and the Tint sliders and tweak those to get just the White Balance that I want.
So in this case I might move the Temperature slider a little bit to the left to make the image a little bluer and I might move the Tint slider a little bit to the right to add a little magenta. And this is completely a subjective decision. Beneath this line there is a button marked Auto. I could click the Auto button and that would have Elements set all of the controls for me, using its best guess for each setting, but the whole point of working with RAW photos is that I can do the processing myself. So I prefer and I suggest you to adjust the controls manually.
I'll start here with the Exposure slider, which sets the white point of the photo. Dragging it to the right makes the light part of the photo lighter, and dragging it to the left makes those areas darker. I'm going to put it somewhere just about there. Then I'll go down to the Blacks slider down here. If I drag to the right, I'm pushing more tones to black. That was a little bit too far and you'll notice when you look at the image that it pops a little more than it did a moment ago. I'll go up to the Preview and I'll uncheck.
So that's where I started, and that's where I am now. What I've done is by varying the Exposure and the Blacks sliders I've increase the contrast in the image expanding the range of tones across the tonal range here. And then there's a Brightness slider here, which affects the overall brightness of the image. Primarily the midtones. So if I want to darken it, I'll drag that slider to the left. If I want to brighten the entire image I'll drag it to the right. I usually don't use the Contrast slider. Instead I rely on the Exposure and Blacks slider to affect contrast, because those sliders give me more control over the result.
The Clarity slider comes in really handy for restoring any sharpness or loss of detail that might have occurred as a result of the other tonal adjustments that I have made. I'm going to drag Clarity to the right, and as I do, you'll see the detail in the image get more crisp and defined. If I want to make the colors in the image look more vibrant, I have two choices. I can use the Saturation slider. If I drag that to the right, it often over saturates some of the colors in the image. So I'm not going to use it this time. I'll put that back to 0 by typing 0 in the Saturation field.
Instead I'm going to use the Vibrance slider. The Vibrance slider does a more subtle job of increasing saturation, as I have done here, or decreasing saturation. It affects only the intensity of the unsaturated colors in the image. So if I do increase Vibrance as I did here, I end up saturating just the duller colors. So that's it for the controls in this column. Now there are a couple of other tabs here at the top of the column. I'm going to click the Detail tab where I have some controls for sharpening the image. If I plan to open this image into Photoshop and do some editing there, then I'll usually won't do any sharpening here in Camera RAW.
I'll drag these sliders over to left all the way and then after I've edited the image in Elements, I'll do my sharpening there using either the Unsharp Mask or the Adjust Sharpness adjustments as I showed you in the last movie. But I'll just leave those at their defaults for now. And down here are two sliders for reducing digital noise in a photo. The Luminance slider for reducing grayscale noise, and the Color slider for reducing digital noise. I don't see much noise in this image, so I'm just going to leave those at their defaults as well. Later when I'm in Photoshop, if I find that there is some noise, I can reduce it there using the Reduce Noise control that I showed you in an earlier movie.
Down here at the bottom of Adobe Camera RAW, there is a Depth menu. From here I can choose whether to bring the image into Photoshop either with all 16 bits that it currently contains or whether to bring it in as a smaller 8 bit image. I'm going to leave that set to 16 bit so that I have as much color information to work with as possible when I open the file in Photoshop. But if I knew I was just going to do something with the file like attach it to an e-mail then I might reduce the depth to eight bits, so the file is smaller in Photoshop.
When I'm done editing the image in Adobe Camera RAW, I have a couple of choices. One thing I can do is save the image with a small text file called an XMP file that contains instructions to process the image with the settings that I have chosen here, and then when I reopen it in Camera RAW those settings will come back. So I'm going to do that with this image by clicking the Save Image button down here, and I'll just click Save to save it in the default location and with all the default settings. Now I'm going to select the other image that's open here by clicking on it in the left-hand column.
Now just assume that I've made some changes to the controls over here. For example I might change the White Balance to Daylight. I'll leave everything else at its defaults including the bit depth of 16 bits per channel. And rather than just Save this image with these settings, I'm going to open it into Elements Full Edit workspace for further editing by clicking the Open Image button here, and that opens the photo here in the Editor processed with the settings that I've chosen in Adobe Camera RAW. Why would I bring it into Elements? Because here I can do things to the image that I can't do in the Adobe Camera RAW interface, like add layers, add type, add graphics with one of the Shape tools.
Do some retouching, make a collage with another image, add filters, and more. One thing to keep in mind is that because I brought the image in at 16-bit depth instead of 8-bit depth, there are some features that won't be available to use here in Elements Editor. For example if I go to the Filter menu, notice that some of the filters are grayed out. In addition, if I try to save this as a JPEG from here by going to File and then Save As, the JPEG format is not available in this menu in the Save As dialog box, because you can't save a 16 bit file as a JPEG.
JPEGs are only 8 bit. So I'm going to cancel out of the Save As dialog box and show you that if I do want to save as JPEG or if I want to use some of the unavailable commands here in Elements Editor, I can convert the image to 8-bit, by going to the Image menu, going down to Mode, and choosing 8-bits per channel. Now that it's an 8-bit image, I can go to the File menu > Save As and the JPEG format is available to me. If you have opportunity to shoot RAW with your camera, I suggest you do it, so that you have the flexibility to process the image yourself in Adobe Camera RAW taking advantage of all the exciting features there.
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